Today we’re doing best/worst writing advice you’ve seen or heard. Be sure to sound off in the comments with yours.
My least favorite is write every day. This is so often repeated it’s taken on the tone of a rule more than advice, and always with the implication that if you don’t, you are not a real writer. But seriously, all you bossypantses who want to tell me how to run my schedule need to step back. I’m a very good project manager, thank you very much. I’ve got this. And if I want to take Christmas off and spend it with my family, that is okay.
Of course this advice applied to any other profession would sound absurd. You wouldn’t tell a dental hygienist that she’s not a real dental hygienist just because she took a day off. But the undertone here is clear: not only must you write every day, but you must want to write every day. It must be unbearable for you to not write. Only then are you a true artiste.
Which is nonsense. Because not only have we got lives and things that come up and sometimes the flu, and not only are we grownups who can figure out our own work schedules, but for some of us, writing every day is creatively counterproductive. If that’s not the case for you, I’m happy for you, but don’t be all smug about how the way it is for you should be the way it is for everyone. Personally, I can get burned out. Sometimes walking away for a couple of days to recharge my batteries is the best thing for me and for whatever I’m writing.
It all comes down to letting your brain work they way it works, rather than insisting it work the way someone told you it’s supposed to work, or the way you’ve heard it works for a writer you admire.
My favorite common writing advice: write books you want to read. This one is simple to the point of seeming obvious, but I hear people worry over it all the time. Sure, they might like to read popcorn when they’re feeling fried at the end of a long day, and they might find popcorn more fun, but shouldn’t they be writing broccoli? Isn’t broccoli a healthier, more worthy goal? Or maybe they really like broccoli, but they’re concerned about how few other people like broccoli. Wouldn’t popcorn sell better? If they want to sell things to people, and the people want popcorn, wouldn’t writing popcorn be a better idea?
Look, I’m not telling anyone else how to write, because I just got done saying that bossiness is bad. But speaking as an avid reader, when I buy your books, I feel like I can tell if your heart was really in the story or not. And if you aren’t enthusiastic about it, chances are I won’t be either.
And I like “write the books you want to read” much better than its cousin write what you know. I’m not sure anyone who writes fantasy likes that one, but I think it’s especially a problem for those of us whose stories include elements of horror. It’s not so much that I don’t want to write about the things I know, as that I don’t want to know the things I write about.
Okay, now you.